By Elias Hakizimana
Officials from Rwanda’s ministry of education will on Monday open a regional training on supervision of postgraduate studies attended by deans and directors of graduate schools from private and public universities in East Africa.
Universities in the region have a limited number of qualified senior university lecturers and researchers to meet the demands for the ever expanding postgraduate and mentorship programs. This consequently, has had a negative impact on the universities’ capacity to sustainably educate the next generation of university lecturers and researchers.
It is against this background that the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA), German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)—through its flagship program, the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA)—has forged a partnership that is aimed at addressing the aforementioned challenges.
The three-day workshop from April 23-25, 2018 at the Kigali Marriot Hotel will draw over 70 participants from the six East African Community (EAC) partner States (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). The first-of-its-kind workshop in the region intends to build the capacity on quality supervision of postgraduate studies.
Recommendations from this convening will be presented by IUCEA, to vice-chancellors, deputy vice-chancellors, and commissions of university education among other policymakers. Ultimately, the harmonized principles and guidelines for postgraduate studies and systems will be institutionalized in the participating institutions and countries.
According to Prof. Mike Kuria, Deputy Executive Secretary, IUCEA, there is no curriculum on how to supervise or teach at postgraduate level. “The future of the quality of higher education in the region depends on the current quality of postgraduate studies. This relies on the number of qualified postgraduate teachers and supervisors. This workshop tries to fill that critical gap.”
CARTA Program Manager, Prof. Peter Ngure says: “This [workshop] has an enormous potential of contributing to the ongoing discourse on improving the quality of masters and Ph.D. degrees produced in the region. It will provide a forum for leaders of graduate schools to share their experiences and to articulate their vision for producing high-quality academia for the job market.”
Dr. Helmut Blumbach, Director of DAAD’s Regional Office in Nairobi, states, that the focus on graduate training and supervision and the aim of establishing regional standards in this field is part and parcel of the longstanding and on-going collaboration of DAAD and IUCEA on quality assurance in higher education: “There is no quality university education without sufficient numbers of well-trained PhDs. PhD training is the engine room of the university system. If the engine splutters, universities will not meet expectations.”